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Fourteen Countryside Walks with Follies

There is something particularly engaging about walking in a landscape which shows the visible influences of generations past. Some of the most striking and noticeable influences are the follies that were created by wealthy landowners. These frivolous and extravagant structures were often built solely for decoration and as accents on the great estates of the 1700s and 1800s. Whilst most of these follies sit within parklands and gardens where entrance fees apply, there are many that are freely accessible as part of a countryside walk. Check out our favourite iFootpath Countryside Walks with Follies…

Follies were often constructed purely for decoration, with no particular practical purpose or a purpose (such as a dining space) that was disguised to fool the eye. They tended to be extravagant or eccentric in their design, reflecting the character or interests of the landowners that commissioned them. Often, they included an element of fakery, for example pretending to be a ruin of an older building when in fact they were purposely built in this exact state. Today, they provide a fascinating punctuation or accents in our landscape, a treat for walkers to discover.

hackfall follyHackfall Explorer Trail, North Yorkshire

The magic of Hackfall is undeniable. From a castle and follies to wonderful old trees, Hackfall is steeped in history. Its unique buildings sit alongside waterfalls and ponds in an ancient woodland teeming with life. If you want to be lost in follies, this is the walk for you. Read more…

Slindon and Nore Hill, West Sussex

Nestling in the foothills of the South Downs, Slindon is charming and unspoilt, its brick and flint houses surrounded by beech woods, farms and open downland. The walking route heads north through the village to reach Nore Hill, with its beautiful woodland and impressive folly. There are bluebells to enjoy in the Spring, plenty of wildlife and great views out to the south coast. Read more…

parnolt follyFaringdon Folly, Oxfordshire

This circular Cotswold walk passes the striking local landmark of Faringdon Folly, built by Lord Berners in 1935 and gifted to Faringdon in 1983, and later passes through the small village of Littleworth. Read more…

Farley Mount and Parnholt, Hampshire

This joyful walk gives you chance to enjoy beautiful bluebells and also visits the Farley Mount (the pyramid shaped folly that gives the park its name). Read more…

Chinthurst Hill and the Grantley Arms, Surrey

This classic pub walk includes a loop up and around Chinthurst Hill, with its beautiful folly tower, bluebell woods and outstanding views. Next, you are taken on a journey on part of the Downs Link including a stretch of a disused railway (with remnants of an old station) and with lovely views of the surrounding Surrey Hills. Read more…

Swinton Estate Trails: Bivouac, Druid’s Temple and Sole Beck, North Yorkshire

This rewarding circular countryside trail takes you on a journey of discovery through rolling pastures and woodland with stunning views, taking in the Swinton Bivouac, Druid's Temple (one of Yorkshire's most interesting follies) and the ruins of Lobley Hall. Read more…

druids templeWoods Corner and the Sugar Loaf, East Sussex

This lovely country walk takes you through fields and stretches of woodland, passing the Sugar Loaf folly built by John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller, Squire of Brightling. Read more…

Stepping Out: Doddington Circular, Lincolnshire

The walk explores the distinctive countryside around Doddington and the parkland of Doddington Hall, with lovely views of the hall, the fishpond and the pyramid folly along the way. Read more…

The Akeman Tring Park and Hastoe Trail, Hertfordshire

The walking route explores the adjacent Tring Park, one of the largest areas of unimproved chalk grassland in the country with a beautiful obelisk and temple folly, and returns through the beautiful Stubbings Wood, a haven for wild flowers and birds. Read more…

The Dog and Doublet Sandon Park and Canal Trail, Staffordshire

This pub walk explores the adjacent Sandon Park, with magnificent views from the open expanse of parkland and a visit to the striking Trentham Tower, before returning along a peaceful stretch of the Trent and Mersey Canal. Read more…

nore hill follyTheale and Sulham, Berkshire

Beginning in Theale’s High Street, the walk soon leaves behind the residential streets to pass the golf course and another hamlet before crossing farmland to reach the nearby village of Sulham. The return leg follows an ancient lane (now a bridleway) passing through the historic Sulham Estate. Along the way you will have fine views of the tower known as Wilder’s Folly. Read more…

The Physician and Birmingham’s Waterside, West Midlands

A rewarding pub walk which takes you on a journey of discovery through residential streets, the waterside paths of Edgbaston Reservoir and Birmingham’s Canals, the heart of Birmingham’s entertainment district and the tree-lined avenues of Summerfield Park. Along the way you will pass a red brick tower known as Perrott’s Folly, thought to be one of the two towers that inspired JRR Tolkien, who lived nearby as a child, to write The Two Towers in Lord of the Rings. Read more…

grecian follyBrookmans and Gobions Wood, Hertfordshire

This pub walk explores the magical Gobions Open Space, a former historic pleasure gardens with pretty brook, large lake, gothic style folly arch and bluebell woodlands. For the optional final mile, you will travel through open countryside, passing the famous Royal Veterinary College along the way. Read more…

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

This freely accessible walk will give you chance to see many of the park’s key features including Clumber Lake, Clumber Bridge, Clumber Chapel (often referred to as the ‘Cathedral in Miniature’), the Grecian Folly and a section of Limetree Avenue (the longest double-lined avenue of lime trees in Europe). Read more…

Enjoy your folly hunting!

16 March 2019

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